Self-Censoring?

On Wednesday of last week, those of us who participate in Friday Fictioneers got our photo prompt for our 100-word stories for Friday. On Thursday evening, I drafted and edited a story and scheduled it through WordPress to publish at 0600 on Friday morning. (You can find the story, “Status Update,” by clicking on the Friday Fictioneers tab above and selecting it from the drop-down list.)

It is absolute and utter coincidence that the story, “Status Update,” is about a terrorist who is preparing a bomb to blow up a school, and it’s a poetic justice story–the terrorist blows himself up instead. I like poetic justice stories, and I like writing stories where bad people get their comeuppance. Again, this idea came into my head on Thursday, and I wrote it on Thursday, at least twenty-four hours before the horrible events in Newtown, Connecticut.

Over the weekend, several readers of this blog suggested I take the story down, and, frankly, on Friday, I did consider just that, mainly because the story involved an act of terror at a school.

Then, I remembered I don’t let murderers and terrorists dictate my behavior, and I certainly don’t let them make me censor myself.

I was a federal employee during both the Oklahoma City bombing and 9/11. On both occasions, we were sent home–for a day only. The following day we were back at work, doing the people’s business. That was especially important after the Oklahoma City bombing because a federal building had been attacked.

Had we not gone back to work as soon as possible after Oklahoma City, Timothy McVeigh and the anti-government types would have won; they would have shut the government down, which is what they wanted. Had we not gone back to work on September 12, 2001, al Qaeda would have won a battle, and that was not acceptable. Believe me, with the Pentagon smoldering a few miles away, it was difficult, as a supervisor, to explain to people why they had to be at work the day after, but they understood the simple concept of not letting the bad guys win.

With the cursor hovering over the “Delete” icon for that Friday Fictioneers story on Friday afternoon, I remembered that feeling of carrying on, of not letting the bad guys win. I realized if I took that story down, I’d be hiding a possibility people needed to know.

People exist who want to blow up schools because they think teachers are union thugs or the curriculum isn’t biblical enough or because they believe children are kept from praying. They’re out there right now, ranting and raving, plotting and planning, but most of them are too cowardly, thank goodness, to follow through.¬†They are an unfortunate reality we have to face, and I’ll write more about this on my political blog on Wednesday.

For this, my writing blog, I’ll just say, no, I wasn’t prescient. Because of research, I know how people like this think, and it’s not fun or pleasant. Further, I’d never glorify people like the shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary School in my writing, but I will make certain in my stories the bad guys get justice, poetic or otherwise.

No, I won’t stop writing about characters who carry guns to protect themselves or to achieve that justice, and, no, I won’t stop writing about people who do bad things and the bad things they do. I will keep writing about getting justice for the oppressed, the injured, the murdered.

Even in real life when justice seems elusive, in fiction you can provide it, and you can get closure. And the bad guys will always lose.